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bigjoec (Offline)
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Default Recommendation for American in France? - 02-05-2014, 01:42

My wife and I travel to France once or twice a year, and I'm tired of worrying about crazy data charges.

Any recommendations on best way for an American with only an American credit card to proceed?

The must-haves are:
- SIM card doesn't expire (I want to use this for a week or so in May, and I want be able to top it up and use it again for a week next year, etc)
- Can be topped up, somehow, with an American credit card (I guess cash is okay, too, but not preferred)
- At least 3G speed on my GS4
- Allows tethering/mobile hotspot. (My phone's not dual-sim, and I want my US number on all the time. I'm going to put this card in an old phone and run it as a hotspot for our regular phones.)

The really-want is:
- Minimum hassle in-country, i.e. I'd like to not spend more than an hour or two of my time in France getting a hold of the SIM card and getting it working.

Other stuff is not that important.
- I don't need to optimize for the best price (cheaper is better, of course)
- I don't need blazing fast download speed (faster is better of course)
- Wider coverage area is better, but not critical
- I'm willing to go through a decent amount of hassle now, while I'm still in the US, to get things set. (But just this first time).

Any thoughts appreciated!

Best,
Joe
   
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rfranzq (Offline)
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Default 02-05-2014, 03:01

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjoec View Post
My wife and I travel to France once or twice a year, and I'm tired of worrying about crazy data charges.

Really good description of what you need. I am in California, so can not help except suggest
you add one piece of info: where all in France wlll you be?
Big cities, little villages, 2 or 3 places only? All over the place---everywhere?
   
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davidtheprof (Offline)
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Default 02-05-2014, 15:27

1. A Piranha international sim usually has best rates - for France, it's 12c/min outgoing, 6c incoming, and 2c/min on wifi. It will come with US and UK numbers, so you can forward your regular number to this, and give folks in France the UK number to call, much cheaper than a US number. Data is 30c/MB on most networks, 15c on Bouygues.

2. Or get a local French sim, usually on ebay so can set up before. I've also used O2 UK for Europe, data roaming in Europe is something like 2 pounds a day for 15MB, but calls not so cheap - but another mandatory price reduction in Europe after July 1.

3. Or switch to TMobile Simple choice plan in US, then just take your phone, free data (slow but I've found adequate, even for navigation), and calls 20c/min in and out.

With choice 1 and 3, you only have to deal with one phone, no worries about hotspot.

If you do need to tether a laptop, use something like pdanet with USB tether, seems OK

Last edited by davidtheprof; 02-05-2014 at 15:34..
   
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dg7feq (Offline)
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Default 02-05-2014, 16:29

please keep in mind that most french payg SIM cards expire very quickly when not recharged. So Piranha might be a good choice.


Germany: o2 blue all-in L, simquadrat
Thailand: truemove (phone+sms+wifi)
International: xxSim+372, toggle +44/+49/+41/+31
Phones: Huawei Mate7, Huawei P9
   
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bigjoec (Offline)
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Default 03-05-2014, 15:05

Thanks for the responses, folks!

Per rfranzq's suggestion, I'll add:

- Our current trip has us going to Paris, champagne, and then all over Bourgogne. But future trips could have us going anywhere. I'd be reasonably satisfied with just something that gave good coverage all over Paris, as that's one place we reliably hit on every trip.

davidtheprof,
I'll check out your suggestions. But a few clarifications:
- The data is key. Voice calls not so important. I'm okay spending a few $ here and a few $ there on voice calls within France and back to the US. We just don't do much calling. But I do want to keep my US number up and running in case work needs me.
- 2g on Tmobile sounds painful. I like the free/unlimited, but don't think I could handle it that slow. Also, my wife has an aversion to Tmob, so we're sticking with AT&T.

dg7feq,
French SIMs expiring is what I was afraid of. I'm hoping for a reusable solution, so I only have to deal with setup once. Do you know any French payg options that wouldn't expire quickly?

Thanks!
Joe
   
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Donal (Offline)
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Default 03-05-2014, 19:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjoec View Post
Do you know any French payg options that wouldn't expire quickly?
Lycamobile.fr -- the sim expires 90 days after last billable action. Just send an sms every three months or so to maintain the card.

Finding the sim card in a kiosk is not so easy, but after you have activated it online (by uploading a scan of your passport) you can then use an international credit card to do online top-ups whenever you need to.
   
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dg7feq (Offline)
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Default 05-05-2014, 10:45

http://www.lefrenchmobile.com/

decent rates and bundles, if you want to keep it active forever they charge 1.4 euro for each month where you dont use the card.

19ct/minute within france and international
1ct/MB payg data, or
40Euro for 1 GB -- no expiry date! or
15 for 1 GB per week


Germany: o2 blue all-in L, simquadrat
Thailand: truemove (phone+sms+wifi)
International: xxSim+372, toggle +44/+49/+41/+31
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peterdoo (Offline)
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Default 19-05-2014, 09:56

If it is only/mainly for data, you might consider using one of the other SIMs offering reasonable data roaming in France:

AldiTalk Germany: 120 MB @ 4,99 EUR per 7 days.
Orange Spain: 100 MB @ 1 EUR per day.
Simobil/Vodafone Slovenia: 500 MB + 1000 minutes + 1000 SMS @ 2,99 EUR per day.
Europasim: 500 MB + 25/25 minutes @ 3,00 EUR per day.

The minutes mentioned are to EU/EEA and do not include US.

Orange Mundo SIMs are sold at http://www.simcardspain.es/en/ with worldwide delivery. They also sell through eBay and Amazon if you prefer (search for "tarjeta mundo"). You have to ask them, what is the registration and activation procedure. In most cases they register the card for you after giving them personal data. Validity of the SIM is 11 months. Then one month more in which it can be recharged.
   
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scirocco (Offline)
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Default 22-05-2014, 10:05

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjoec View Post
- Allows tethering/mobile hotspot. (My phone's not dual-sim, and I want my US number on all the time. I'm going to put this card in an old phone and run it as a hotspot for our regular phones.)
So if I'm reading you right, a data only SIM would be fine? (because for voice calls you'll leave your "good" phones with their US SIMs in them)? And voice call rates are pretty much irrelevant?

Just be aware that there is a lot of wifi in France. And at least one telco (Orange France) uses that FON technology where a lot of household and business routers can share their wifi with the outside world (i.e you if you happen to be passing). You may not need as much 3G as you might think.

Personally I would be getting a local SIM (even though data rates may not be the cheapest you can get) to get rock-solid performance. I've had poor experiences and difficult setup with data roaming in France (and other countries). Give me a local SIM with local support from one of the main telcos in the country any day.

Also worth checking coverage maps if you are going to be in rural or mountainous areas. Some operators have scarily large patches of white space on their maps compared with others!
   
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willemijns (Offline)
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Default 09-06-2014, 10:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjoec View Post
French SIMs expiring is what I was afraid of. I'm hoping for a reusable solution, so I only have to deal with setup once. Do you know any French payg options that wouldn't expire quickly?

lycamobile, vectonemobile


FR volunteer specialist in mobile.
Looks for free SIM with FR roaming Orange, Bouygues & SFR.

Delight mobile OK. Piranha mobile OK until now with a bad issue at the beginning.
   
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